Language-painting? or painting?

Some thoughts on language . . .


4 Replies to “Language-painting? or painting?”

  1. I’d have to disagree, because statements in English (or any other language) are made in context. If someone says “I’m painting a door.”, they are very likely to add descriptive modifiers like “I’m painting the bathroom door.” or “I’m painting the front door.” Unless they are known to be artists with a fascination for architectural elements, one may reasonably assume that they are applying a coat of paint.

    The same goes for ‘meet’ and ‘bump into’. I someone ‘bumps into’ a person they know (‘meets’ them), then they will in all likelihood be specific about the encounter: “I bumped into so-and-so”. If an accidental encounter, they will likely describe the incident more generally “I bumped into this guy at the grocery store.”

    1. I understand what you’re saying. I was thinking of English in comparison to Italian-in the main, English does not need a context to define the meaning of a phrase or word, whereas Italian is a VERY contextual language, which is why you regularly hear Italians say: Hai capito? – and not just to us foreigners! In the case of meet, I was thinking that if I say “I met John 25 years ago”. OR “I met John at the bar yesterday” we use the same verb, whereas in Italian & French (and possibly in other languages) there are two distinctly different verbs. I am also intrigued by how language and culture are intertwined: Why in Italian is the word for grandchild and nephew/niece the same? why for example in English do we not have a phrase like “Buon Appetito” or “Bon Appetit” ? (‘Enjoy!’ is a poor substitute, and relatively new!) Interesting, yeah?

      1. But we DO have a phrase for that; it’s Bon Appetit.

        If we don’t have a word or expression that says exactly what we mean, we just co-opt it from any other language or dialect that does. That makes English either the most inclusive language, or the biggest word-thief in the world, depending on your point of view.

  2. My point exactly – – it implies to me that food is/was less important to us English speakers whereas the French Italians etc. felt that food was something to enjoy not simply some fuel!!!

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